A few years ago we had a pellet shortage in the U.S. and no one cared what they burned in their stoves as long as they had something to keep their homes warm with. I was in the same boat. I found an alternative source of pellets at the local feed store in the form of “Horse Bedding” which is wood pellets in a larger size. They burned very dirty and left a lot of ash but otherwise kept my house warm.
We haven’t had that problem for a few years so what should you look for when buying pellets. While buying a less expensive brand may save money in the short term it has its headaches in the long term. Cheaper pellets tend to have a lot more ash and burn dirty. This means that you will be cleaning your stove much more often and the glass will turn black faster. I’ve heard some people say they have to clean their stove daily when using the cheaper brand.
My recommendation is to always buy premium brand pellets. Beyond the short term inconvenience and mess you have the longer term problem of excessive ash build up in the stove and chimney. This has to be cleaned out at least once a year even with a premium brand of pellet. If this is not done then you have the problem of low air flow and creosote build up. Creosote is black and sticky and a mess to get out of your stove. I’ve cleaned a few stoves like this and it can get expensive. It also shortens the life of the combustion fan.
Where I live in California we have Lignetics and Golden Fire readily available through the local supplier and grocery stores. They run $5-6 a bag or more. I usually buy three bags at a time and it costs exactly $18. Buying by the ton is most cost effective. The local stove shop will allow me to buy by the ton at the beginning of the season and store the bags for me at the shop. I can go pick them up whenever I need them.
Buy the more expensive pellets. They are less hassle in the short term and long term and they burn hotter and more efficiently which is less of a strain on our environment.
You can find replacement parts for your pellet stove at my store http://stores.ebay.com/store=16777311